Thursday, August 4, 2011


Each of us has been put on earth with the ability to do something well. We cheat ourselves and the world if we don't use that ability as best we can. Gracie Allen
My eldest daughter is incredibly talented. A singer, dancer, actor, writer, she has a heart of molten gold and a spirit that radiates light and love. She is amazing.

Yesterday, she shared a snippet of conversation she'd had with her 92 year old grandmother, her father's mother. Grammie, as the girls call her, recently fell and is now in a care faciility healing a broken hip. Until the fall, she had been living on her own in her beautiful home on the ocean. It is a place she loves. Cherishes. Has been defiant in her insistence she is capable of living on her own in a house on a cliff over-looking the Strait of Georgia. Her independence is commendable. Her agility, strength and courage inspiring.

And now she risks losing it all. Her son and daughter are talking of moving her back to Calgary because she has no one there to help her or visit her should she need to move into a senior's oriented centre.

This is a woman who is adamant in her right to 'do it my way'. Fierce. Critical. Not-overly optimistic, she has managed to maintain her independence in spite of arthritis and other ailments. While her body may be showing signs of wear and tear of living (at 92 it's kind of to be expected!), her mind is as agile and sharp as it ever was.

"It's the problem with too much talent like your's Alexis," she told my eldest daughter yesterday. "You have too many choices."

I think about the story my daughter tells about her many talents, that any of us tell about our gifts -- where did the story come from?

I wonder where someone begins to believe there is such a thing as a 'problem' with talent or even that a person can have 'too much' talent or too many choices inhibiting expression of one's gifts?

Did this woman of 92 years once have a dream she never lived because she couldn't decide, or didn't have the support to choose the path to her dream instead of the path to marriage and a family?

Does she fear dying with her dream unspoken, unlived, unrealized? Does she regret the path that lead her to a beautiful home on the water yet kept her far from the dream she once held so dear?

I used to spend a great deal of time with this woman. Once. When I was married to her son. But separation, divorce, distance and time pulled the weave of our relationship apart.

I never made the effort to stay in touch, though when her husband died, it was me who brought the girls to the funeral, who stayed with her for the week after his passing to help her move through the initial stages of her grief.

When I was married to her son, I made the effort to temper her negative outlook with my desire to show her the sun. Post-divorce, the energy needed to shine the light on her outlook wasn't there. I turned to shoring up my life, leaving this lonely and embittered woman to fend for herself.

Thoughts of this woman came to my mind this morning as I was reading Maureen's poem, Ways of Losing at her blog, Writing without Paper.

Maureen writes:

/The sink with the last strands
of untouched grey hair, and the room at the end of the hall they took

me to the day I heard my father had died and my grandmother
and my brother, none too old, and my friends, every one too young.

These are some ways of losing, and what we lose we pray for,
sit shiva, clothe ourselves in a fashionable black and pronounce

for our period of mourning. Some of us want process, declaring first

denial, then anger, moving from bargaining through depression,

finally giving in to acceptance. Don't you believe it's so easy as that.
When you lose what you love, you still love what you've lost.

When dreams are lost, do we still love them?

My daughter commented yesterday that if she were not to pursue acting it would be a waste of her education, "I'd be giving up my dream," she said.

"Was acting really your dream?" I ask. "Or was it to make a difference, to reach people and inspire them to live their best life yet? You can't lose what you learned, experienced, the tools you gained, the understanding you have of voice and movement and the human condition that you gained during your years of study."

There are many paths to living our dreams. It's in the living that our dreams come true.

Maybe it isn't that dreams die but that we simply awaken to the beauty of this moment where we are free to make the most of what we have.

Maybe in our dreaming, we nurture the seed of possibility that there is something more than the dream we claimed as a child that no longer fits our truth today.

Maybe, in the awakening of our spirit beyond childhood dreams, we recognize the truth of who we are is more than a child's desire to be seen.

Maybe, we all have dreams we once held dear that need to be cast free on the winds of time.

Maybe in freeing ourselves of dreams that have run past their best before date, we awaken to the beauty of possibility to become who we truly want to be -- beautiful, free, and alive -- in this moment right now living with all we've been given, being all we're meant to be.


Anonymous said...


I have long believed - and still hold to - the advice and wisdom of Harry Truman in these matters.

He said:
“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”

I began striving to use that axiom when my children were 10-12 years old. It has served them well, and me too.

Best wishes to your daughter in choosing her path.

All I would add to Harry's wisdom is that path-choice does not mean one should stay on a path once it becomes no-longer the path you choose.



p.s. as for seniors having their wishes over-ridden by 'the system', my recent experiences prove that you have to advocate strongly for them because the system is stacked with well meaning forces who will quash their wishes (to say nothing of what well meaning families will do) in ways we would not tolerate if imposed on us ..

S. Etole said...

I've just come from Maureen's, and her poem, coupled with your thoughts, have landed in my heart.

Maureen said...

I didn't expect to see those lines of mine here but glad they prompted you to write your post.

To me, it counts if you make an effort to realize a dream, even if you don't in the end fully achieve it according to some pre-set standard. You only lose when you don't try.

nance marie said...

what happens when we all are different people traveling together on the same road?

i wrote my post for today, late last night...and today i wrote one for tomorrow...and this was before all this reading i have done about dreams.

i usually write on the day of post or very late the night before. hardly ever do i write ahead more than the night before.

anyway...just guess what they contain?

Jennifer Richardson said...

oh how I love this!
maybe real dreams are fluid oxygen
or spirit
or water.
They can take different form
and varied paths....seep into the
spaces created when things fall apart
and tumble down.
I love that about them
...their lack of rigidity
and constriction.
This post encouraged me to the bone!
Thanks for this beautiful share,

Louise Gallagher said...

So true Mark -- and still, we must live our dreams if we are to be true to ourselves.


Louise Gallagher said...

And your heart is such a beautiful place Susan as evidenced everyday at your blog,

Louise Gallagher said...

Maureen, your poem moved me deeply -- and yes, it is in not attempting to live our dreams, sorrow takes up residence in our hearts.

Louise Gallagher said...

Ah Nance Marie -- your writing of dreams ignites my writing of dreams, or is it vice versa? is it just that the collective consciousness connects us all to dreaming?

I can't wait for your post tomorrow :)!

Louise Gallagher said...

Thank you Jennifer. I love the idea of dreams being fluid, and deep, and moving... like water.

How lovely!

Claudia said...

there's quite some food for thoughts in this our dreams, being able to do what we love most, getting bitter with dreams that fall apart... think i will chew a bit on that..

trisha said...

independence can become an addiction. her home must be a terrific place to stay in btw :)

lots of love.

Sandra Heska King said...

Oh friend. This post is molten gold.

Maybe in the mourning of a dream that's expired, we find a morning of fresh dreams.

This so touched my heart.